Podcast: Distefano Recalls How She Became First Woman in Sons of Italy Drum and Bugle Corps

Annette Belfiore Distefano of Haverhill. (Courtesy photograph.)

Annette Belfiore Distefano of Haverhill performing with the Sons of Italy Drum and Bugle Corps. (Courtesy photograph.)

When it comes to volunteer organizations, many groups have learned to expand their horizons and embrace a new way of doing things.

That was the case almost 30 years ago, when Annette Belfiore Distefano of Haverhill became the first female to perform in the local Sons of Italy Drum and Bugle Corps. The pioneer, a recent guest on WHAV’s morning program, said her husband, Gregory, was involved with the Corps, where he played the snare drum.

“He got a call from one of the members saying, ‘Hey, did you know, they’re going to let women in?’ and he says ‘Yeah, my wife wants to join.’ I did. I signed up. I was rusty at first, I hadn’t played the horn in a lot of years. Within a couple of weeks, I got my lips back in shape and started playing again. And that’s how I got started.”

Distefano played with the Sons of Italy for 11 years. She got her start playing the bugle, however, many years earlier when her father started teaching her as a youngster and became involved with her first Drum and Bugle Corps when she was just nine years old.

“Back then they used to have a drum corps at the Tilton School, and I told my father, ‘I want to do the baton. I want to join the majorette section,’ and he said ‘No, you better join the horn section because anybody can twirl a baton.’ I said ‘Oh, alright.’ So, I got my girlfriend. I said why don’t you join with me. I feel funny with all those boys. She said ‘oh alright’ so we both joined and before you know it we started playing. I played for them for three and a half years. At 12 years old I had to leave because we moved to California.”

The Sons of Italy Drum and Bugle Corps performs a mix of Italian, American and Military songs, and recently performed at the Purple Heart City ceremony in downtown Haverhill.

Besides WHAV.net, WHAV’s “Merrimack Valley Newsmakers” podcasts are available via Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Alexa.

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